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Custom Guitar Pickup Renaissance Only Beginning?

scatter winding pickups
Aftermarket pickups have been a vigorous industry for over 3 decades, and the age of the "pickup guru" is nothing new. But in spite of how simple this device seems, the innovation and mojo and number of individuals building guitar pickups continues to multiply.

Over the last few months my pickup-related posts have asked, "why don't we see more P90 applications in Strats-- particularly in the bridge position?" AND "why hasn't 'scatterwinding', the random handwinding method, been automated by the larger manufacturers?". These questions either seem to fall upon deaf ears or there just wasn't a good answer.

I was recently very delighted by Premier Guitar's June '09 feature: 5 Single Coil Pickup Builders... feature in which one profiled builder, Pete Biltoft of Vintage Vibe Guitars addressed all of my wonderings and then some. Biltoft simply incorporates a cam with his winding machine in order to create random patterns, AND he has created what he calls an SP90; a P90 config the size of a Strat sized single coil. He also builds pickups with user removable magnet poles "threaded inserts" and provides different types of replacement poles, enabling you and me to further custom tune our pickups as needed. And that's not all folks.

In ToneQuest Report's Fred Stuart interview, Stuart refers to the quality of magnet material available for pickup use compared to that used in other more precision industries and applications, indicating we could be doing a lot better just in the alnico dept.

Another serious ToneQuest featured pickup guru is Aussie, Rod McQueen of Slider's Vintage Classic Pickups.

So, it appears that the ever-growing pickup builder community includes some real innovation & room for more, in spite of the Duncan - DiMarzio dynasties and the Fralin - Lollar priesthoods.

Check the links above for more details. The Fred Stuart interview provides the best historical background & explanation on "scatterwinding" I've read.

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